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Charge fee for consultation?

Discussion in 'Landscape Lighting' started by seolatlanta, Apr 4, 2008.

  1. seolatlanta

    seolatlanta LawnSite Member
    Posts: 176

    I am sure this has been beaten to death , but I searched it and came up with everything under the sun.

    Do you guys charge $75-$100 when you go out for the consultation. I know a guy here who is going to go out and do an initial consult , take pictures, do a thorough walkthrough and get a feel for the property.

    Then he tells them he will draw up a design and proposal and if they want him to come back out he wants $100 , credited to the job if sold. What do you guys think?

    I told him when they call ask if they will pay for a consultation and are willing to pay $2k at least for a system - if they say yes , they are obviously a good customer.

    What do you guys do to qualify prospects?
  2. pete scalia

    pete scalia LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 960

    Tell them over the phone -you make me come out there and then don't buy from me and I'll break your freakin' head you miserable degenerate. Except freakin' is substituted for a more powerful word. I don't get many sits but the ones I do get usually go along with the program especially when I bring my uncle Nunzio.
  3. Chris J

    Chris J LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,830

    His methods sound similar, but in most cases you either tell the customer there is an initial consultation fee before you arrive, or you meet with them for free and tell them there will be a design fee before you begin your process. I've never heard of this approach before, and it sounds quite silly (personally).
    When a prospect calls me, I first ask them how they heard of me. This will tell you alot. If they say "yellow pages" then I'll tell them the average job is 6k. If they say they live next door to one of my customers who gave them my number, I say nothing about price until I get there because I believe they already know it's going to be expensive.
  4. klkanders

    klkanders LawnSite Senior Member
    from Midwest
    Posts: 848

    If I was the tire kicking kind of customer I would ask a ton of questions and get his design ideas free from him that first visit.
    I like the idea of prequalify over the phone before any investment is made such as fuel, time, pictures, etc...
  5. pete scalia

    pete scalia LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 960

    You say this like it's a new idea to you. Man this is sales 101. What is going on here?
  6. klkanders

    klkanders LawnSite Senior Member
    from Midwest
    Posts: 848

    Sorry I meant to say......Here is what Pete says.....:)
  7. Pro-Scapes

    Pro-Scapes LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,181

    we have done the free consult and charged for it a few times. We are on a good roll for pre qualifying as calls have been coming as a result of a nice project we did but once we get bitten again there will be a fee. Missed appointments do not get reschedualed unless they agree to a fee.

    I dont think it matters if you charge 39 bucks or 200 bucks. Someone just price shopping wont pay a nickle unless they are serious. My computer just crashed. They wanted 39 bucks just to give me an estimate in 3 days to repair it... an additional 69 if I wanted it rushed. All that and I had to go to them.

    With fuel prices the way they are I think alot of us might be better off with a reasonable fee unless its a refferal or a client you have previously done work for.
  8. seolatlanta

    seolatlanta LawnSite Member
    Posts: 176

    Actually , I thought it was way too silly also , but he is trying it. He believes that his 2 step process will take time to develop but it will work for him.

    He is a landscape designer at heart, and he can really draw, freestyle by hand and with autocad also.His belief is if he can show his drawings it is indicative of his level of work.

    Anyway, I'm just the messenger , and any ideas shared here can be fine tuned and possibly your advantage someday.
  9. Lite4

    Lite4 LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,112

    I just instituted using a fee based consultation. Here is why, You will eliminate those who are just looking for you to show them where to place their box store junk. If they aren't seriously considering lighting they won't waste your time. If they are serious they won't mind. look at it from this angle. If you charge a fee it tells them you are very busy and know your stuff. It also tells them you don't like having your time wasted by tire kicking. When I go out to meet them I will walk the property and most times will set up a demonstration. I am spending an entire evening with them. If they don't purchase I better get something for the time I am spending away from my family and to cover gas. If they go to my website I send every one through my consultation and Design page which explains my conditions and charges for meeting with them. They will also get a pretty good idea of my pricing. If they agree they will contact me and I already have a pre quallified client on the other end of the line. Just my thoughts.
  10. Pro-Scapes

    Pro-Scapes LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,181

    Mike G has an excellent article on his site about this subject. I think it is important how you present it to the client and assure them the fee is applied to any project or service.

    When I go out on a service call for someone elses system the client is informed of the service charge before I even show up.

    You just have to be careful about who you charge the fee to. We are about to remodel and put that addition on the house and I would of been happy to give the 3 contractors we called a reasonable fee for estimating and giving me the required breakdown of the costs but had they just said "I charge 100 bucks to come out" I would of been like no thanks.

    If they presented it " I would be happy to come out and meet with you. I have a 100 dollar charge for custom work and consultations which will include a full estimate. The consult fee will be applied to any project placed on the schedual." If they bark about 50 or 100 or 150 or whatever your fee is what do you think they are going to say when you get out to thier multi million dollar home and your price tag is 15k ?

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